I recently read an article from The Guardian by Brigid Schulte titled “A Woman’s Greatest Enemy? A Lack of Time to Herself.” It was about how many famous male artists had wives or housekeepers doing everything for them, which gave the artists long hours of uninterrupted time to create. In general, women don’t have that and they have less leisure time than men. Traditionally, women’s leisure time has been productive, socially-sanctioned activities like quilting bees and canning parties. Many women, even when they have leisure time, feel guilty spending it entirely on themselves and they tend to do productive or service-oriented things, such as batch cooking or crafts for other people.
“Yet pure leisure, making time just for oneself, is nothing short of a courageous act of radical and subversive resistance.”
I’ve been making literature charts with authors, their works, and why that work is famous to study for the literature identification part of the Praxis II English Language Arts test that I’m taking in two weeks. Reading about these writers’ lives and their unfinished manuscripts that were published posthumously has got me thinking about my own writing. I have seven unpublished manuscripts. Seven is a pretty big, pretty silly number. I don’t know if I’ll ever do anything with those manuscripts. Several of them are complete NaNoWriMo nonsense.
Almost daily I get a notification that my author page on Facebook has a new view. I assume that it’s the same person every day and that the person is my mother. But it feels like a little nudge every day. “Yes, Emily, I know that you’re studying for this big exam. I know that you’re in the middle of an international move. I know that you’re in school to get a Master of Arts in Teaching. I know. But do you remember how much you used to love to write? Remember that?”
I lose a part of myself when I’m not writing and it’s a part that I need.
I’ve been using my “leisure time” to exercise lately. But does strength training and diastasis recti exercise really count as leisure time? Isn’t exercise like eating and sleeping- things you need to do just to be a person? True leisure time is what makes you an interesting person, a person worth knowing. I am loving strength training, but it can’t take the place of writing time.
Here is my courageous act of subversive resistance. I’m letting things go. I’m not doing everything. The other people who live in this house need to step up and take responsibility for their own messes. Because I’m not putting up with this lack of leisure time anymore. I know part of it was because the pandemic fried my brain. For a while, I tried to make an effort to write. I spent months writing in sentence fragments and calling it poetry because I didn't have the attention span for paragraphs. I wrote in half ideas, lost thoughts, and loose bits. I feel myself coming back. I need this part of me alive and well, nourished and cared for.
I guess I’m back to whispering into the void. You’re not alone and neither am I. Here are some words. Maybe they speak to you. You deserve, and you are allowed, pure leisure.